Originally published on QueenAnneNews.com
A group of Queen Anne community members are evaluating potential next steps after the city’s hearing examiner denied their appeal regarding a proposed development in the neighborhood.
[In late July], Future Queen Anne’s appeal of the State Environmental Policy Act/Master Use Permit (SEPA/MUP) approval of a near 60-unit townhouse plan on the former campus of the Seattle Children’s Home (901 W. McGraw St.) by Toll Brothers, a Pennsylvania-based real estate company, was rejected.
Ross Maddalena, a member of Future Queen Anne, said the appeal covered several aspects of the assessment, from traffic impacts, to the affect the new buildings would have on infrastructure and utilities, and issues of height, bulk, and scale. Due to the unusual size of the property — spanning almost two full city blocks and 2.5 acres — the group argued that codes and regulations alone were not enough to assess the potential impacts, and that in some instances the city had accepted incorrect information and omitted key information in its review.
One particular concern was the assumption that just one student would be added for each grade level at Coe Elementary, an estimate that Future Queen Anne argued was flawed because most the units proposed are multi-bedroom and marketed toward families.
“Our point was Coe is at capacity, and the city made a clear error that didn’t even reach out to the school to ask what the impacts would be, or how they could mitigate them, or put a condition on them that could help.”
Another issue was procedural, regarding the change from full design review to streamlined design review more than two years into the process.
“In doing so, they didn’t change the posted noticeboards at the property,” he said. “The ones that are up there right now, even still today, have both improper depiction of where the buildings will be, an improper depiction of the number of spaces on 9th Avenue West and how the buildings will be oriented, and the project description, the actual text on that board, doesn’t match. It states the wrong number of buildings, the wrong number of units, it’s not correct.”
Future Queen Anne also argued that significant traffic impacts were not taken into account.
“That section of McGraw and 10th Avenue West and Crockett is going to be an issue,” he said. “It’s going to be a safety concern when this project goes in, it’s not a question of if, so the real issue that has been heightened is that moving forward, engaging with SDOT, and engaging with neighborhood groups to demand that those intersections and the pedestrian corridors be assessed and improved is going to be paramount.”
Now that the appeal was denied by the hearing examiner, Maddalena said the next step would be to take the appeal to King County Superior Court. In the coming days, the group will determine whether to take that step.
“The plan is that we are going to make sure that we understand what the scope of our appeal would be, and make a strategic determination on what aspects of it should be appealed if any,” he said. “There hasn’t been a final determination on that, but we’re moving forward with the idea that we have to do that within the next week or so, and so that will be the next step if we move this forward.”